Probably I will be giving up my membership in Intertel this year, but because I may return another year, I feel that I should input on a few cultural issues as they relate to newsletters.
First, I want to state that I will always maintain my membership in Mensa. Here is my reasoning. Mensa is the established crossroads of the HIQ community. It's the popular hangout. I want access to it. Regarding the Mensa Bulletin, I find it a little bit constrictive and politically correct to make real interesting reading, but it is the popular hangout. I also can understand some good reasons for the Bulletin to remain stodgy. It is so widely distributed that it exposes itself the to risk of being quoted and run up the flagpole in a "Mensa says" sort of way that there is little choice to attempt to avoid big time controversy.
Still, I wish there were an alternative Mensa publication that was a wide open as the wild west where I could read other's opinions whether anyone considered them dangerous or not. The only hold I would have is that there should be no personal attacks. People who pay their dues should be given no reason to regret having paid them.
Newsletters in general are "living" entities in that they develop a personality of their own and evolve it. If somewhere in the charter of an organization restrictions are called out on content, then those restrictions should be observed or changed at the charter level. However, if a member were to open a private newsletter as an alternate choice of reading, that newsletter is not subject to charged rules.
Personally, I've never been offended by POC. On the other hand, I read it from "cover to cover" but I would not go out of my way to subscribe to it. Very simply, the reason I feel this way is because I am not a member of the NRA, I don't read the American Rifleman, and I'm not all that caught up in all of the gun vs anti-gun issues. Most of them I have already formed an opinion on, and I'm not interested in the subject enough to enjoy reading through the rehash and hype on either side of the issue. Without the gun control issue, POC has yet to truly captivate my attention and rivet my interest in anything else. In short, to me it lacks personality and input. This is not the editor's fault. It just seems that there has not been enough substantive input from members to give it life and personality.
Aside from my stated view on Mensa, I view the HIQ societies as a sort of smorgasbord. I enjoy this one for a year or so, then that one. I've yet to become riveted to any of the newsletters. I do enjoy the correspondence with the people I meet on a one on one basis. It's sort of like dropping into a party, meeting a new friend or two, and moving on to the next party. But the really big party is at Mensa in spite of the fact that they won't let you into the Bulletin without a tie.
Just for an instant put yourself in my shoes. I live in a small town in Wisconsin. The HIQ societies are so fragmented that in any one of them, save Mensa, the likelihood of finding another member in my own community approaches zero. The Mensa SIG's, while providing a subject to crystallize upon, again refragment to a sparse population of actual warm bodies to touch and talk to in a small town.
My wildest dream would be that everyone who was eligible for Mensa would be discovered and enrolled. That would create the critical mass within the SIG's that would really set them off even for those of us in small towns. The dialogue would be interesting by virtue of the common interest and the ability to meet on a face to face level. And the geographical spacings of members would be close enough to make it convenient to see each other even on a week night.
What a party!
Don't get me wrong Kort, I'm not saying that there is no place for Intertel. What I am saying is that we are slicing slivers of pie so thin that nobody receives the benefit of a really lush mental exchange on a day to day basis. We need a bigger pie!
I think that the sliver of a sliver effect is what is causing so much white space in POC which requires the editor to fill it out. Writers should write. Editors should edit. When editors do most of the writing, one has to pause to question the viability of the publication.
For what it's worth,
Charles A. Bohlman